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Roller derby women get kicks with elbows, skates

Photos by Aimee Dilger The Times Leader Go to www.timesleader.com for additional photos

The Coal City Rollers don skates with brightly colored wheels as well as stockings and socks.

ZomBettie and Freakshow of the Coal City Rollers warm up prior to their bout with Hammer City.

Jammers No. 18 V-Diva of Coal City and No. 8 Torinado of Hammer City bump at the start of a jam. For additional photos, go to www.timesleader.com.

For a few hours a month, nearly 20 local women get together and throw elbows, slam opponents down and aim to score as many points as possible.

They are the Coal City Rollers, Northeastern Pennsylvania’s first women’s roller derby team.

The team, which consists of women ranging in age from 20 to 40, was formed in 2006. Since then, every season, which runs from March to October, the girls compete in bouts against at least 15 other teams.

A bout consists of two 30-minute periods, during which the team’s jammer tries to score as many points as she can.

The jammer starts at the back of a pack of skaters, five altogether from each team, and tries to skate to the front of the pack. A jammer scores points by passing her opponents without incident. The other players on her team, called blockers, clear a path for her.

For the 2009 season, the Coal City Rollers expect to do two bouts a month, one home and one away.

Beckie King, of Tunkhannock, the Rollers’ interleague liaison, said the girls have traveled to most of the states in the northeast region of the United States, including New York, New Jersey and Delaware.

Each girl uses a moniker instead of her real name for the team. King is known as Lickety Whip, taking the name of her favorite coffee drink, and then there’s Panty Ho, Bloody Keri and Action Jaxson, to name a few.

At a recent bout against a Canada-based team, the Hammer City Roller Girls, at Skateaway in Wilkes-Barre Township, the local girls won by nearly 30 points.

Most of the girls on the Coal City Rollers live in Wilkes-Barre, or surrounding areas, including Tunkhannock, Pittston and Scranton. The women operate the team on sponsorships, donations and out-of-pocket money, but would welcome sponsors.

With dozens of women’s roller derby teams in the U.S., King says the sport has become popular because of the physical workout and relationships formed.

“It’s about our dedication to a bunch of women getting together and doing something they love,” King said. “And, it’s the physical aspect, too. You can beat the hell out of each other and be friends after.”

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